“We are on the verge of a revolution in brain research. Scientists now realize that interdisciplinary dialogue is essential.” - Professor Uri Ashery, Department of Neurobiology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences. The images that the international media portrays of Israel are so distorted that it seems that the reporters and editors must have closed their eyes, ears and minds to common sense. Well welcome to the blog that blows away those false smokescreens and gives a true sense of what this amazing country is achieving.
The brain controls our senses and the nerve center of Israeli research is Neuroscience. A groundbreaking ceremony took place at the site of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The new building will be home to the largest neuroscience center in Israel and one of the most ambitious in the world. One Hebrew University Professor, Hagai Berman, is to receive he Rappaport Prize for Excellence in Biomedical Research as overdue recognition for his work on Deep Brain Stimulation. Over 100,000 Parkinson’s sufferers have been treated with DBS, one of the most effective treatments for the ailment.
Researchers over at Israel’s Technion are working at the forefront of a new Neuroscience category called Optogenetics where they have discovered a substitute for damaged retinas. A light-sensitive protein can turn the ganglion cells in the eye into photoreceptors. Visual images projected onto these cells stimulate neurons and recreate the image in the brain. Watch this space! Meanwhile Bloomberg TV highlighted Israel’s huge advances in brain science. The reporter even put on an Israeli Brain Machine Interface. But it took common sense to recognize that Alzheimer’s sufferers would benefit simply from wearing “MediTags” – bracelets that contain medical and contact details in Hebrew and English in case they get lost.
Turning to the sense of smell, even habitual slanderers of the Jewish State – the UK Guardian newspaper and the BBC – recently hailed the innovative cancer breath test invented by Israel Technion Professor Hossam Haick. And you may be able to sense the aroma of 18,000 tons of freshly picked apples being exported by Druze farmers in the Golan Heights to Syria over the next three months. And what nonsense that the BDS movement promotes the boycott of Ahava’s fragrant skin care products, given that virtually every tour bus that comes to Jericho is directed by the Palestinian Authority into the Ahava Temptation store.
The visual senses are enhanced by the super-resolution technology from Tel Aviv-based Sightec. US-based Pongr has just acquired Sightec to help improve its image and take its photo-sharing business to a completely new level. And there is no need to take your eyes off the road if you purchase a Voyager car phone from Israel’s Accel Telecom. It acts as an extension of your smartphone, with sensory features especially for drivers. Big, easy to access keys; noise filtration and cancellation facilities; enhanced volume for clearer conversations; voice activation and much more.
Israeli musicians are busy making (sound) waves around the world. If you are lucky enough to be in Austin Texas, you should visit the South By South West event where you will get an opportunity to hear performances from ten of the best Israeli bands. And to follow up on last week’s blog, here is the full video of Iranian-born Israeli singer Rita rocking the audience at the United Nations.
It also makes perfect sense that Israel’s educational activities are attractive to the world. For example, the Chinese Ambassador to Israel visited Israel’s Technion and explained how the long histories connecting China and Israel attracts top Chinese students to study there. Then, in Washington DC, the new Israel Institute opened its doors with a novel mission: to advance the scholarly study of modern Israel in the United States and around the world. Finally, Israel became a global player in the educational games industry when Israeli publisher of children’s and family apps, TabTable, bought Israeli smartphone educational games company Kids Games Club. Together they market over 200 educational apps.
Israeli scientists have made so many medical discoveries that they almost seem to have a sixth sense. No wonder then that a delegation from the UK HQ of GlaxoSmithKline visited the Weizmann Institute, Sheba Medical Center, Hadassit in Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion University, Israel Technion and other institutions. GSK’s leader Dr. Duncan Holmes said, “We recognize the huge expertise of Israeli academics in research in this field.”
I’ll conclude this journey through the physical senses with the news that NASA engineer David Brent will shortly become an American Israeli. He writes that he is going up in the world by making Aliya and immigrating to the Jewish State. He says that in Israel, the laws of physics are reversed as it is a lot easier to go up, than to go down.
David can sense that he is coming home.